Author Christophe Pourny has compiled an excellent and highly readable guide to restoring and repairing old furniture. A true master artisan, he sees the beauty and inherent possibility of every style and era, and his enthusiasm is infectious. The book begins with a brief history of furniture, with some tips on what to look for, and where to look (this is not an antiques guide, however; questions about specific pieces should be directed elsewhere), and continues with a short primer on how furniture is made, including the use of different materials and woods.

“The process might seem unnerving, but if you break it down, it’s not daunting. Just stick to decaf the day of!”

The bulk of the book explain various finishes, such as shellac, wax, gilding or paint; prep work frequently required, such as stripping, sanding, staining, etc. (and how to do it!); different techniques used to achieve a desired look; tools required; and the care of your furniture. Sections are packed with informative photographs (or helpful drawings); further, each technique is exemplified with a piece the author is restoring, and step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos walk the reader through the processes. These are frequently (always?) complicated and rather intimidating, but the author’s careful, friendly and helpful directions make them seem possible and doable even for beginners.

Finally, he offers recipes for making your own waxes, fillers, shellacs, and stains. The tone is absolutely non-pretentious; the author encourages working with the wood and the piece to bring out its innate beauty, whether it is a neoclassical Italian table with elaborate inlays or a $45 Craigslist mid-century dresser. This book is not called The Furniture Bible for nothing; you will turn to it over and over for information about furniture you have or admire, or even to glimpse hidden potential. Anyone who is interested in beautiful, quality furniture needs this book.